Uganda Hosting First-Ever Birding Expo To Promote Tourism In 2016

Uganda Hosting First-Ever Birding Expo To Promote Tourism In 2016

Do an online search for “birding in Uganda” and you’ll get a blizzard of options. Topping the list of search results is Uganda’s own tourism-board website, Birding Uganda, with a photo of a stork at sunset and this quote: “Uganda’s birds have ornithologists doing cartwheels.”

Moving down the list, you’ll be bombarded with birding safaris, and we’re not talking a few days. There are 14-day birding safaris and 22-day safaris.

If you think birding — formerly known as bird-watching — is an obscure activity, think again.

In the U.S. alone, about 85 million Americans enjoy photographing, feeding or observing wild birds, according to USAToday. Birding ranks No. 15 on a list of most popular outdoor activities, just below bicycling and going to the beach, according to the National Survey on Recreation and the Environment by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

By the numbers, Uganda has 10 percent of the world’s total bird species, 50 percent of Africa’s bird species, and the tourism board says the country has 34 important bird watching areas, according to a report in the DailyMonitor.

Some of Uganda’s birds that attract birders from around the world live only in the country’s tropical forests and sightings are so rare, they’re described as “mythical,” according to AfricaGeographic. It is believed that some of the birds living in the remote forests may not even be classified yet.

Gray-crowned crane, ground hornbill, shoebill and Heuglin’s robin are some of the birds enthusiasts hope to catch a glimpse of when they come to Uganda.

Uganda may be one of the best bird-watching destinations in the world, according to the Rweteera Safari Park website, which draws bird lovers in with a simple introductory photo of a footpath disappearing into a forest. The message is: in here, there are birds. Come with us. We’ll show you.

That’s the overall message Uganda is trying to get out, and to that end the country will play host in 2016 to its first-ever avitourism event, the African Birding Expo.

Plans are being made way in advance — like a year and a half. The birding expo is scheduled for Nov. 27-29, 2016.

This event is the brainchild of Herbert Byaruhanga, a pioneer in Ugandan birding tourism. He is president of the Uganda Tourist Association and Chairman of the Uganda Safari Guides Association according to a report in eTurboNews.

The bird-watching community in and outside Africa is being invited to attend the three-day event, including people who sell birding gear, cameras, binoculars and guide books, along with international travel writers, celebrities, the media, the public and other exhibitors.

The event is being held at the Entebbe botanical gardens, where scenes were filmed for the 1940s Tarzan films starring Johnny Weissmuller. The gardens are close to accommodations and area attractions.

The Uganda Tourism Board and Uganda Tourist Association is sponsoring the event, which was inspired by the annual British Bird Watching Expo, fondly described as the “Birders Glastonbury,” that Uganda has participated in since 1997, eTurboNews reports.

Ugandan clubs and organizations will be there including Wildlife Clubs of Uganda, Nature Uganda, Uganda Society, Uganda Young Birders’ Club, and Uganda Women Birders’ Club.

The birding expo will also include activities such as face painting of favorite birds, a bird quiz, imitating common bird calls, traditional dances, pre and post tours to experience Kampala’s night life, visits to cultural sites, and a taste of local cuisine.

This is an updated version of an AFKInsider story that was first published June 23, 2015.